About - Robert E. Cooley Center for Early Christianity

About the Cooley Center

The purpose of the Cooley Center is to explore the historical foundations of the Christian faith. This is accomplished by several means.

Cooley Collection

First, through the Center’s collection, there are numerous volumes and periodicals on anthropology, early Church history and archaeology in the Middle East during biblical times that are available to those interested in conducting research in these areas.

Lectures Series

Second, the Center’s annual lecture series brings scholars of note to Charlotte to address topics in Old Testament, New Testament and the Patristics, with the intent of correlating textual and archaeological evidence in all three of these areas.

News and Research

Third, the director, curator and fellow of the Center are involved in publication projects, the promotion of research and efforts to make scholarship accessible to a larger audience.


Finally, to make research “come alive,” the Center is involved in sponsoring trips to the lands of the Bible.
Cooley Center

Contributing Scholars

Curriculum Vitae


Robert E. Cooley Professor of Early Christianity

Dr. Donald Fairbairn (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the Robert E. Cooley Professor of Early Christianity, and specializes in the development of Christian doctrine on the Trinity and Christ during the first six Christian centuries. He is particularly concerned with recognizing the Church’s consensus about Christian orthodoxy, in opposition to contemporary views that exaggerate the diversity within the early Church and thus undermine the very notion that there was such a thing as “orthodoxy.”

Dr. Fairbairn has lived and ministered in the Republic of Georgia and in Ukraine, and he has also taught in Russia, Belarus, Greece, Belgium, Hungary, England, and Canada. He and his wife Jennifer have two children, Trey (born in 2001) and Ella (born in 2003).

Publications by Dr. Fairbairn:

Curriculum Vitae

Director of the Green Scholar’s Initiative and Cooley Center Research Scholar

Dr. Jerry Pattengale (Ph.D., Miami University) is University Professor at Indiana Wesleyan University. He has spoken on many of the nation’s largest campuses, has founded and helped direct various national initiatives, and has numerous books, publications and unique life experiences. In recent years, he served as Executive Director of the Green Scholars’ Initiative, the research arm of the world’s largest private collection of biblical texts and artifacts. The Green Collection’s major museum is located near Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, and its Verbum Domini and Passages exhibits have been featured in prominent locations, including the Vatican. Currently Jerry serves as Assistant Provost at Indiana Wesleyan University (IWU)—one the nation’s three largest Christian universities. He’s attracted $40 million in educational funding to IWU, and in 2012 received its top honor, “The World Changing Faculty Award.” He has research appointments at Baylor University, The Sagamore Institute, Tyndale House–Cambridge, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and is the Director of National Conversations, the Associate Publisher, Christian Scholar’s Review, and on the national board of directors for the Religion News Service. He received the National Student Advocate Award (USC), two Professor of the Year Awards (APU), an NEH Award to Isthmia, Greece, and established the record viewership for the prominent Teaching Professor broadcasts (Madison, WI). Recent books include The New Book of Christian Martyrs: The Heroes of Our Faith from the 1st Century to the 21st Century; Biblical Evidence; Beyond Integration?; Taking Every Thought Captive; Straight Talk: Clear Answers about Today’s Christianity; Why I Teach; The Purpose-guided Student; Helping Sophomores Succeed and; Visible Solutions for Invisible Students. In August, 2012, he was appointed as a general editor for the first series (of three) with Brill Publishers (Leiden). And from 2011 to 2013 he produced four lecture (and DVD) series involving over 50 top biblical scholars, including a series with the Pontifical Biblical Institute (Rome), and in 2013 appeared in three History Channel segments. Jerry is one of the pioneers of Purpose-Guided Education, a humanities-based approach to student success. His Accidental Author newsprint series has run for over a decade and he contributes regularly to Books & Culture and the Washington Post. He received international recognition for co-developing the Odyssey in Egypt initiative, attached to their excavation in Egypt and schools in Western Michigan.

More recently, Dr. Pattengale serves as Editor-in-Chief, The Bible: Its History, Story and Impact (Compedia, Israel, 2014, in Hebrew, used in Tel Aviv area schools, officially approved by Israeli Department of Education). A major public gathering has celebrated this curriculum (Ramat Gan, Israel, May 20, 2015).  Furthermore, recent essays appear in the current issues of Books & Culture, “No Alexandrian Romance: The Macedonian Ascendancy” and in CCCU Advance (national publication of Council for Christian Colleges and Universities), “Women and Leadership in Higher Education.” Three book chapters have also been accepted for three different academic publishers, “Ancient Laws and Crimes,” (Hendrickson’s, 2015) “The Whole-Student Approach as a Retention Model,” (Stylus, 2015) and “Media, Contemporary Print and Digital [Top Christian Venues]” (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2016).

Also of special interest, Dr. Pattengale co-presented with Rory Crowley, “The Green Scholar’s Initiative’s Scholar-Mentor/Junior-Scholar Approach: Preliminary Results from a Working Pedagogical Case Study” at the SOTL Commons Conference hosted by Georgia Southern University (3.26.2015). This type of presentation was long in planning, and anticipated in the founding of the GSI model. Additional roles include serving on the boards of the Religion News Service and Yale’s Jonathan Edwards’ Center, and as associate publisher for Christian Scholar’s Review.

Finally, his humorous “Buck Creek Chronicles” newsprint column is in its 13th year and is appearing in a four-book series, Buck Creek: True Stories to Tickle Your Mind.  And on a special note, this winter an unsolicited funder distributed Telling the Truth with a Smile: Christmas Stories from the Buck Creek Series to 12,000 readers (DustJacket, Dec., 2014).

Jerry lives in Indiana with his wife, Cindy. They have four adult sons.

Ph.D., Miami Univ. (OH), Ancient History | M.A., Miami Univ. (OH), Tudor-Stuart History

M.A., Wheaton College (IL), Interpersonal Development | B.S., Indiana Wesleyan University, History, Religion

Cooley Center Steering Committee

Dr. Gerry Wheaton, Dean of Networked Education, and Associate Professor of New Testament

Ivan Hinrichs

Michelle Littlejohn